As the temperatures drop, proper calf housing and care becomes increasingly important. A warm calf is not only more comfortable, but also healthier and more efficient.
Immediately after birth, the calf should be dried off until the coat fluffs, creating natural insulation.
Dry calves should then be provided with plenty of good quality, dry bedding to nest in. In areas where that may not be sufficient, calf coats (also known as calf blankets) are a good source of supplemental warmth.
Simply calf-sized coats, they often fasten in place with straps or ties and are made of warm fabrics like wool, polyester blends and insulating foams. Many options are even machine washable. They generally cost from about $22 to $44 each.
Ventilation is also important, but must be handled in a way to prevent drafts, which can be detrimental to vulnerable calves.
For more information on housing, see the Dairy Calf and Heifer Associations’ Gold Standards III at www.calfandheifer.org.